Rabbit farms exist to raise rabbit meat, furs and wool. Before you jump into starting your own, there is a lot of homework you need to do first. You want to find out what kind of market exists for the product you want to produce.
One resource to check in the United States is the American Rabbit Breeders Association. They keep an eye on the rabbit meat market and print updates in every issue of their quarterly magazine, the Domestic Rabbit.
You can get the basics of what the demand is in your area and how much processors are paying per pound. This can give you a start on what you might be able to make per rabbit. If you decide to sell directly to the customer, who will you sell to?
Restaurants may be willing to buy rabbit meat directly from the commercial producer, but you need to be able to fill their order on a reliable basis. Be sure to check your state regulations for rules governing the selling of meat directly to the consumer.
In the United States, there isn't much of a market for rabbit furs; they can be produced cheaper in China. For angora wool, there is a market, but it is very specialized.
You need to market directly to handspinners and knitters if you decide to have the wool spun into yarn before you sell the furs produced on your rabbit farms.
Once you have defined your markets, you need to figure your rabbit farms start up costs. Depending on how many rabbits you will have, your housing costs will vary.
The best results come from rabbits kept in a climate controlled building that offers ventilation as well as heating and cooling. This helps eliminate the down times you'll have due to summer heat and winter cold.
Metal cages are easiest to clean and manage. Don't forget feeders and a commercial watering system. If you want 200 does to breed, you obviously can't spend the time filling individual water bottles. Nestboxes will be another cost to figure in. You'll want boxes that can be easily disinfected between uses.
Do you have an idea how many rabbits you can handle? A meat rabbit operation can easily run a lot more does than a wool rabbit operation. Angoras just need more individual care with all the grooming and harvesting involved.
Next, you need to figure out what breeds will provide you with what you want in the most economical way. For meat rabbits, New Zealands and Californians are most frequently used because they breed dependably, have large litters that grow fast and provide more muscle than some other breeds.
For angoras, German angoras will produce more wool per year than any other breed.
Once you have everything figured out and you are set to go, you still need to learn rabbit husbandry. What kind of breed back schedule will you use?
Meat rabbits are usually bred more regularly than rabbits used for other purposes because the resulting fryers are your income. If you are figuring an average of 8 kits per litter, how will you make up lost income for does that have less?
You need to figure out a schedule for routine cleaning and health checks to keep your rabbit farms investment healthy. Do your homework and you have a better chance of success.
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